I know this is a not the title you would expect for the Last Word, but while camping, God taught me some things that spoke to my heart.
There is a really nice lady up here, Marie, who makes these amazing walking sticks out of Devil’s Club. Out in the woods, she gathers stalks of Devil’s Club. They are very, very prickly, with needlelike thorns that can even come through leather gloves. I know from experience. If that isn’t enough deterrent to leaving the Devil’s Club alone, once you get a thorn stuck in your skin, if you don’t dig it out right away it will fester and get infected.
But when you peel off the bark — carefully — underneath it is pure white. It dries white and the stick is amazingly lightweight even before it cures. It is beautiful underneath the prickly bark … and usable. Valuable! Worth the chance of possibly getting hurt by working with it.
After sanding the wood it becomes very smooth, and I carved “Walk by faith” in one stalk. After all of the years that I avoided Devil’s Club like the plague, I am now holding a beautiful walking stick to give to someone.
As I worked on it, God was teaching me some valuable lessons. The center of a Devil’s Club stalk is very soft. This center is where the plant draws up moisture from the earth to get its nutrients. We also are to draw upon the Living Water for our strength. This core, or soft center, is also like our human heart. It is our soft spot for God, but it can be hidden beneath a prickly exterior. Maybe because of deep hurts a person might put up these prickly thorns in order to protect themselves.
Sometimes we need to take a chance to really get to know someone. Maybe there is an area of their life that is festering deep down inside that needs the healing touch of God. God can use us to help them learn to lean on Him. They could use a little support and encouragement along life’s journey.
Sometimes, if we are not careful, we can have “prickly areas” in our lives. Drawing on the fresh, Living Water of the Word flushes out the impurities of the world that can stagnate and pollute our focus. Keeping “short accounts” of the sin “that so easily entangles us” helps us remember Who made us, and Whose we are, and that we were made for His purposes. Understanding that each one of us is a work in progress helps us as well. He might be in the process of peeling some bark or sanding us to be more useful for Him.
Before I knew Him, He saw “the white bark and soft center” within my prickly soul. He made me to be whiter than snow and tenderhearted for Him. Because of His love, He would peel back the layers. He knows about thorns. He has the scars to prove it! All He asks is that I would walk through my life’s journey leaning on Him … because He is my Strength, my Guide.
– Gordy and Linda
On assignment as camp hosts at Taidnapam Camp Ground